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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Letters

There is no excuse

Jan 11, 2021

To the editor:
I have sworn, both as District Attorney and President of Sullivan County's Bar Association, to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of New York.
My colleagues in our law enforcement and legal communities have done the same. We believe in the rule of law and the orderly process of government. We also believe in the right of every American to free speech, free association and free assembly.
The January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol Building was an assault on our democracy, committed by Americans, many of whom represent themselves as true patriots, who perpetrated a siege on the very institutions and elected officials who safeguard their freedom and ours.
There is no excuse, no justification, and no legitimate defense for these acts. We are a nation of laws which must be respected. No more important laws exist than those embodied by our Constitution, which sets forth our system of government and provides for the orderly transfer of power from one set of leaders to the next.
Our nation's founders, with tremendous insight, wove these principles the fabric of our republic. They did not make one set of rules for when their preferred candidate was elected and another if someone they opposed was elected.
Respect for our Constitution is more critical to the future successes of our country than the success of any individual politician. The respect a true patriot has for the rule of law transcends power or political affiliation.
Individually and collectively, we must demand from ourselves and exemplify that which we expect from others. We must be living examples of that which we demand from the members of every social and political movement: peaceful demonstrators who engage in respectful dialogue and tolerate inevitable political and cultural disappointments. We must also be living examples of that which we demand from our government: integrity and equal respect for every person's rights.
Ultimately, we must demand from ourselves and each other recognition of the legitimacy of our electoral process, safeguarded by those appointed or elected to positions of authority and trust to examine voter registrations, guarantee the sanctity of polling places, count votes and certify a result.
The rule of law in America ensures access to legal challenges to the electoral process, and when those have been exhausted, we are duty bound as American citizens to accept the result. The future of democracy as we know it depends on it.
The lessons of this moment must be imparted responsibly and urgently upon our youth, so that they may be carried forward to future generations. In my view, neither law enforcement nor lawyers can condone the kinds of divisive attitudes that led to the barbarism so recently on display, all of which undermine the public's faith in the rule of law.
This year, our local law enforcement and legal communities committed to promoting diversity and access to justice, mindful of the national conversation surrounding race and equality. We must now do more.
I urge my colleagues to join me in composing an educational agenda that underscores our collective belief in the fundamental principles of democracy, dialogue, decency and the right to respectful dissent that have led us to become a beacon of hope and freedom the world over.
It's time now to look toward the future with cautious and hopeful optimism; to set aside politics and look within ourselves and each other to that which unites us; and to demonstrate for our children, by thought, word and deed, appreciation of and adherence to the longstanding values of American citizenship that guarantee to each of us the right to pursue our own vision of liberty and happiness.



Meagan K. Galligan
Monticello




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